Be Netflix, not Blockbuster | How to evolve in a… | Liquid Agency
Be Netflix, not Blockbuster | How to evolve in a volatile property market

27 May 2019 | 5 min read

Be Netflix, not Blockbuster | How to evolve in a volatile property market

It’s the big, four-bedroom elephant in the room: the property market has slowed down.* And it’s not just Sydney and Melbourne, either. London house prices are slumping thanks to Brexit and a sluggish, tea-and-biscuit-based economy. China’s new mortgage curbs and buying thresholds have had a similar effect in Beijing. Australian house prices dropped 5.1 per cent in 2018 – the biggest 12-month fall ever recorded.

(* With the election now over, the Coalition's win, and APRA's decision to scrap the 7.5% interest rate repayment rule, there are early signs the property market is improving. But there is also talk of an impending local/global recession!)

It’s the same story everywhere: dwindling property revenue, jumpy consumer confidence and plummeting bar charts. Fairly grim stuff.

But that’s a pretty familiar narrative. What doesn’t get talked about much is what developers and the property industry should be doing during a downturn. You’ll hear a lot of chatter about trimming sails and battening hatches, but where market uncertainty exists, opportunity is never far behind. This is no time to retreat. It’s time for the property sector to embrace new technologies – to lay the digital foundations for the next big boom. To change the way we think about property. In other words: be the Netflix, not the Blockbuster.

It’s time for the property sector to embrace new technologies – to lay the digital foundations for the next big boom.

Time to make better decisions

Developers are faced with new challenges now. You need to improve efficiencies and reduce running costs, get transparency on your spending (in other words, figure out if you’re getting ROI or shovelling money into a hole marked ‘Innovation’), and most of all you need good data. While Big Data was revolutionising health care and science, the property sector lagged (mostly thanks to fragmented property data spread across multiple countries), but companies like data mining firm, House Canary, have shown that good data can generate massive growth, regardless of market speed. Good data is an edge. And when the stakes are high and margins razor-thin, an edge makes all the difference.

Closing the loop

If you haven’t heard of closed-loop marketing, there’s a pretty good chance you’re currently haemorrhaging potential revenue. Think of accurate data capture as the raw ingredients, and closing the loop as the finished casserole: it’s the interaction between Sales and Marketing that drives existing clients back to the top of the funnel, and it’s probably the fastest way to increase your overall conversion. Studies also show that retaining old clients is five times cheaper than getting new ones (huzzah!). How do customers land on your website? What happens when they get there? How do you nurture potential leads? Why are retention rates so poor? If you can’t answer those questions, you don’t have a sales loop – you have a sales colander.

Automation, not ‘Innovation’

You’ll hear a lot of agencies use the word ‘innovation’ (we even throw it around ourselves from time to time), but the truth is, digital adoption in the property sector isn’t new. Widespread digital revolution has already happened. We’re more interested in automation, which is set to shake up the real estate industry in a big way. PWC estimates that automation will soon account for 40% of the value chain of a given property. In some cases, this will be logistical automation (as wholesalers ditch manually operated distribution hubs), in most cases, it will be digital. That means having a kick-ass, fully-functional CRM, built on impeccable customer data. As a Salesforce Partner, this is our digital bread and butter. It’s the single greatest opportunity for businesses to improve conversion efficiency and cut costs. (We’ve broken down the Salesforce do’s and don’ts over here).

Scalability is key

People often think of scalability working upwards – rapidly scaling a business to meet hockey-stick growth. But scalability is just as valuable in the other direction: eliminating risk and exposure by shrinking business inefficiencies during a downturn. That’s the beauty of digital technology: it lets you ride the property wave, rather than getting buffeted all over the ocean. And even though the market is slow right now, it won’t be that way forever. The smart businesses are spending this time getting ready: cleaning their customer database, improving their SEO, turning their CRM into a well-oiled machine, closing that sales loop, reducing physical overheads and automating critical processes. Future-proofing their business. When the boom comes – and it will come again – guess who’s ready to capitalise.

The future is already here - #PropMarTech

What we’re discussing here isn’t exactly ‘PropTech’ (the loose term for real estate technology, which is now a rocket-fuelled US$4billion Silicon Valley industry). And it’s not ‘MarTech’ (the catch-all term for digital marketing automation). We call it 'PropMarTech', and it’s something unique to Liquid. It’s an approach that takes the latest digital marketing technologies and parses them through a property filter, creating an industry-specific and highly targeted digital strategy. Sounds hifalutin, but imagine the bit on the Venn Diagram where marketing automation and property overlap. There aren’t many agencies playing in that space, but in a $32 trillion commercial real estate sector, it’s the most important space in town.

When Blockbuster opened its first store in 1985, the VCR was the pinnacle of home movie technology. But technology never sits still. And unless businesses adapt and change and grow, they get left behind. It happens every day.

That’s what we mean when we say ‘Be Netflix, not Blockbuster’. In the property game, you always need one eye on tomorrow.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch!